Bangladesh batsmen must step up
Saturday, December 3
Start time 1330 (0730 GMT)
Bangladesh are floundering. Their performance has been just as abject as Pakistan's has been dominant. The depth in the pace attack that gave Pakistan that extra advantage against Sri Lanka in the Test series in the Middle East has been complemented superbly by their spinners in the limited-overs formats. Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez have outshone their Bangladesh counterparts, whose over-reliance on Shakib Al Hasan's all-round abilities can only take them so far.
The slow and low tracks in Mirpur may have stifled Pakistan's batting, but it's done worse for the hosts. Their captain Mushfiqur Rahim said: "I have not experienced what home advantage is in the last two series, to be honest with you. When you talk about home advantage, you expect to be playing on pitches you are familiar with, so you know what a good total would be, be it 240 or 150." But he was also prompt to point out that his batsmen "lacked application". They lasted just 30.3 overs in the previous game, struggled to last 20 overs in the Twenty20 game before that and even in Tests, and have largely found it tough to bat for extended periods.
The pitches so far may not have been to their liking, but they've still played to Bangladesh's strength - spin. They've just been up against opponents who, apart from being significantly superior, have exploited those conditions better. Not many expected Bangladesh to cause an upset against an opponent that is on a high, but not many would have thought they'd capitulate this badly at home. With four games still remaining on the tour, their batsmen, especially, need to step up as no one's exposed the difference between the teams as glaringly as they have.
Bangladesh: LWLLW (most recent first)
In the spotlight...
Tamim Iqbal missed the Twenty20 game due to a knee injury and was dismissed for a duck in the first ODI. A fluent strokemaker, he's also shown the ability to play long innings, and in testing conditions he's among the best equipped in his side to face the Pakistan bowling. He got half-centuries in each of the two home Tests against West Indies before this series and as their best batsman, needs to lead by example.
Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan wicketkeeper, has done reasonably well behind the stumps but hasn't really impressed with the bat. He has an average of 45.16 in first-class cricket but has only managed a highest of 24 in his last five innings. Pakistan have been trying out Umar Akmal behind the stumps in some limited-overs matches, and Sarfraz needs to do much more with the bat to keep his place.
Bangladesh may look to bring Imrul Kayes back to strengthen their batting.
Bangladesh (possible) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Imrul Kayes, 3 Shahriar Nafees, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (capt & wk), 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Naeem Islam, 8 Nasir Hossain, 9 Abdur Razzak, 10 Shafiul Islam, 11 Rubel Hossain.
Pakistan are likely to retain the same side as they attempt to take the series, and leave any experimentation for the third ODI.
Pakistan (possible) 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Imran Farhat, 3 Younis Khan, 4 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Umar Akmal, 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Shoaib Malik, 9 Saeed Ajmal, 10 Umar Gul, 11 Aizaz Cheema.
Stats and trivia
- Mushfiqur Rahim is just 14 away from reaching 2000 runs in ODIs. He'll be the sixth Bangladesh batsman to get to that landmark when he does.
"If the batsmen want they can survive. You can take singles, rotate the strike and play yourself in. Maybe because of Twenty20 cricket now, batsmen don't have the temperament."
Shahid Afridi presents a different take on the Mirpur pitch
Siddhartha Talya is a sub editor at ESPNcricinfo